HUNDREDS of residents in Ennis and South-East Clare are living in fear of further flooding this weekend after the Clare Crisis Management Centre issued a severe flood-risk warning to all parts of the county.
Despite the onset of one-in-100-year flooding in Clare last week, the multi-agency flood relief team has expressed fears of further flooding over the coming days.
A combination of unprecedented levels of rainfall totalling over 400 millimetres this month, high tides and strong winds, resulted in devastating flooding in parts of Ennis town, which has left the county facing a multi-million euro clean-up operation.
Following evacuation from their homes, 105 Ennis people are still residing in emergency shelter at the West County Hotel, while another 50 residents left their dwellings voluntarily.
Clare County Council officials are examining alternative accommodation for those who can’t get back into their own homes. Six houses have been inspected by council engineers for flood damage and another 20 are due to be examined over the coming week.
County manager, Tom Coughlan, said however that the county has not seen the worst of the flooding yet and warned on Wednesday that the situation could get worse before it gets better. Mr Coughlan expressed concern that the Ennis water basin is currently saturated, with high volumes of water from North Clare still having to pass through the town. Further high rainfall and tides are predicted over the weekend, which is expected to exasperate the problem.
In a joint statement, the Mayor of Clare, Councillor Tony Mulcahy and Mayor of Ennis, Councillor Frankie Neylon warned of a severe flood risk for Ennis, South-East Clare and other parts of the county stating.
“Members of the public should realise that by failing to co-operate with the emergency services, they are placing their own lives and the lives of others at risk. Clare is in an emergency situation where total co-operation is required. The situation will get worse before it gets better”.
“It is very likely that areas previously affected by flood waters in recent days will again experience flooding over the coming days. It is important to recognise the considerable efforts of hundreds of emergency service personnel and local authority staff who have been working tirelessly since last Thursday to ensure that life and property have been protected,” they stated.
Irish Coast Guard (ICG) crews are monitoring water levels on the Shannon, following a further increased release of water from the ESB’s Parteen Weir on Wednesday.
In a statement, the ESB said there would be no increase in the current discharge rate overnight.
However, it previously said it has no option but to reduce pressure on Lough Derg if a “catastrophic” flooding on the 35km Shannon stretch which it controls to Limerick, is to be averted. The weir has been spilling water for some days at Parteen and the ESB is liaising with an inter-agency group involving the four local authorities directly affected.
Agencies have requested that the public, and particularly motorists, who are not directly involved in the flood response to keep clear of flooded areas.
The Emergency Response including the Help Line 1890-252-943 will continue on a 24-hour basis until further notice. Information is also available on the Clare County Council website www.clarecoco.ie.
Meanwhile, a senior Clare garda has warned people to be vigilant as flooding persists.
Superintendent John Scanlan said that while gardaí are under “extensive pressure” they are responding to calls as best they can.
“This is a very serious flood and we have been working at this since Thursday – morning, noon and night,” he said, adding, “there are certain elements we can’t overcome. We have to make things as liveable and as passable as we can and try and achieve outcomes that make it somewhat easier for people”.
Gardaí praised the work of groups involved in the crisis management centre but singled out local clubs in particular for their contribution to containing the flooding.
“We want to extend a good deal of credit to Clonlara GAA club and Éire Óg here in Ennis who were asked on Sunday to assist with sandbagging. They filled 1,000 sandbags in Clonlara in phenomenal time. It is to the credit of a community stepping up to defend itself. It is what is needed here at times. When we have asked people to step up to the mark, they have done that and we want to acknowledge that and be thankful for it,” Superintendent Scanlan concluded.